CNN’s Jeff Zucker has just resigned as President of CNN, effective immediately.
The news sent shockwaves throughout the news community. In a memo posted to Twitter, Zucker admitted that he had a “consensual relationship” that he failed to disclose during an investigation into misconduct by disgraced CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.
Jeff Zucker Stuns CNN, Announces His Resignation
Jeff Zucker just announced his resignation to a stunned CNN. pic.twitter.com/sWXYNBO20d
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 2, 2022
CNN’s Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter posted Zucker’s resignation announcement to Twitter.
“As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years,” he began.
“I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years,” he continued. “I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong.”
“As a result, I am resigning today,” he continued.
“I came to CNN on January 28, 2013, he went on. “Together, we had nine great years. I certainly wish my tenure here had ended differently. But it was an amazing run. And I loved every minute.”
“I am grateful to the thousands of incredibly talented CNN and Turner Sports employees who helped make this such a joy for me, and such a success for all of us, he concluded. “I wish each of you nothing but the best in the years ahead.”
He signed off the message “With gratitude and much love. Jeff.”
Colleague Steps Forward, ‘Our Relationship Changed During COVID’
“Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years. Recently, our relationship changed during COVID. I regret that we didn’t disclose it at the right time,” Allison Gollust says in a statement.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 2, 2022
Although Stelter noted that Zucker did not name his colleague in the memo, it was reported that Zucker had a close relationship with Allison Gollust, who serves as the Chief Marketing Officer for CNN. Gollust is expected to stay at CNN.
In a statement, Gollust said that “Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years. Recently, our relationship changed during COVID. I regret that we didn’t disclose it at the right time.”
Gollust came to CNN after leaving NBC in 2013, where she and Zucker had previously worked together for 15 years.
Allison Gollust And Jeff Zucker Got Into A Public Fight In 2017
Interesting line from this 2017 story about Jeff Zucker and Allison Gollust getting into a fight at a party. “It looked like she was reprimanding her husband or something,” mocked an unnamed rival news executive. “https://t.co/TkwULZGGCL
— Levi Fishman (@levifishman) February 2, 2022
In April 2017, the Daily Mail reported that Zucker and Gollust had gotten into a public argument at a swanky upscale New York City party for the Hollywood Reporter’s 35 Most Powerful People in NY Media Party.
According to witnesses who were at the party, Zucker and Gollust started “intensely speaking and making anguished hand gestures before Gollust stormed away into the crowd.”
“It was something they were dealing with at CNN all day,” a source said at the time. “It wasn’t an argument.”
One unnamed executive reportedly mocked, “It looked like she was reprimanding her husband or something.”
What Happened With Chris Cuomo?
On November 30, Cuomo was “suspended indefinitely” after helping his older brother, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo, handle the sexual misconduct allegations he was facing.
In 2005, he was accused of inappropriately grabbing a woman’s rear end at a work party. In 2020, producer Melanie Buck left “Cuomo Prime Time” after informing Zucker that she “felt threatened” by Cuomo.
“A former junior colleague at another network” has since come forward with new accusations, although she has only agreed to be interviewed provided her statements and identity be kept confidential. Cuomo started working for ABC in 2006 before he joined CNN’s morning show in 2013.
In December, Cuomo quit his SiriusXM show, but not before asking CNN to honor the rest of his $6 million dollar contract.
In a staff meeting in December 2021, Zucker reportedly told staffers that Cuomo “deserved termination” and called his firing “a lesson we have all learned from.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Zucker said that he was not going to honor the rest of Cuomo’s contract. When asked if he regretted not suspending Cuomo earlier, Zucker reportedly said that “hindsight in all of this is very easy.”
“This was a very unique situation and so we did allow for some leeway for Chris that, you know, was unique to that situation for somebody in that role with a brother in that role during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic,” he added. “So, I do think that we tried to make the right decisions at the right times.”